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Google Spills its Secret Sauce (Well . . . Sorta)



So Google’s facing an inquiry from the European Commission after accusations of anti-trust. Naturally, Google’s not taking this lying down. On the European Public Policy blog, Matt Cutts responds to allegations of anti-competitive practices by sharing their secret sauce, PageRank. But are they transparent enough?

(Yeah, the link is just the original Stanford paper on Google that discusses the basic principles of PageRank as defined 10 years ago.)

Google outlines all its efforts to help webmasters and increase its transparency, including:

  • “Google has continued to publish literally hundreds of research papers over the years. Those papers reveal many of the “secret formulas” for how Google works and document essential infrastructure that Google uses.”
  • “In 1999, Sergey Brin participated in the first Search Engine Strategies conference for webmasters.”
  • “In 2001, Google became one of the first search engines to engage online at a publisher forum called WebmasterWorld. One representative (GoogleGuy) has posted over 2800 times, while another (AdWordsAdvisor) has posted almost 5000 times.”
  • “Google now has over 70 official blogs, including an official webmaster blog specifically to help site owners understand how Google works and help them rank appropriately in our search results.”
  • Live webmaster chats and in-person conferences
  • Webmaster Tools

Although lots of lawsuits and disgruntled individuals claim that Google is an evil black box, the list of things they’ve done to reach out and help webmasters is impressive (even if a lot of webmasters don’t know about it)—and I just listed things till I got bored.

What do you think? Has Google made enough of an effort to be transparent and helpful? Is this an adequate defense against anti-trust allegations?

  • http://www.musingsforadarkenedroom.com Mike Wilton

    I think based on the fact that Google doesn’t really HAVE to reach out to webmasters at all ,is enough to say that Google has done more than their part to reach out to their users. Google can’t give us everything, but I think they give us enough and if you keep your ear to the industry and pay attention to things like IR on a larger scale you can get a feel for where not only Google is going, but where all of the search engines are going in terms of advancements and their algorithms. Sure there are a lot of things Google does that piss people off, but all companies do that. People pick on Google primarily because of it’s size and it’s reach.
    .-= Mike Wilton´s last blog ..Locally Grown Organic Produce Right To Your Door =-.

  • http://www.valnelson.com Val Nelson

    I agree that Google has been very extending and I have taken full advantage of it in the ways you’ve said. This is a great outline of all the options available to the public.

    To give away more info on how it works would make no sense. It would only ruin the quality of results. People already try to game the system from what they do know and Google has to constantly work against that in order to keep showing high quality results. Honestly, anyone who thinks they should share more info doesn’t understand that the secrecy is an essential ingredient in making search results good. It would be full of spam otherwise.

    Thank you.
    .-= Val Nelson´s last blog ..There’s Something About Business Cards =-.

  • http://twitter.com/rikglaser Rick Glaser

    Google has done plenty to be “transparent”. If you consider the consequences of letting all of their secrets out, it is not a good situation.

    In fact they are not obligated to do half of the stuff they do. Having blogs / discussions with webmasters on how to take advantage of organic (free) rankings is extremely powerful. When you take into account the time / cost of having their employees educate us for free, you can begin to appreciate things a little more.

    PS: I am not saying they give all of the information, or for that matter are always truthful on their blogs. It is however, the thought that matters. :)

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    The problem is, you don’t know, what you don’t know. How do we know that Google is telling us all there is to know.

    Patents and white papers are great, but what about the manual manipulation of results? How often does that happen, what does it look like? Just one thing that came to mind. :-)

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    Anytime I read or view answers from Google they are so seriously vague or obtuse they don’t really help or answer anything at all.
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..Google’s Algorithm History by Wired.com =-.